By Kimari Rennis
Daemonical is a very well-hidden gem tucked away in some of the farthest corners of Steam. This incredible online survival horror game puts its own unique spin on Dead by Daylight by making you rely on communication, tracking, and trust in others to survive and stop the onslaught of a terrifying demon.
Stranded on a mysterious island boasting a dense forest and a series of wooden cabins, you and four friends soon realize that as night approaches, one of you will become a demon and seek to ravage the rest of the survivors. Deep glowing gashes lie dormant on the palm of each survivor’s hand and they pulse with energy in order to guide you towards artifacts, which are bloody bones. In the dark of night, you and the other survivors must find each missing artifact to complete a ritual which will banish the horrific, alien-like demon.
Daemonical weaves together its own little tight-knit community of players and utilizes in-depth game mechanics to make each playing experience different. The creators of the game publicly welcome people to their Discord Server– a place with organized chat rooms where users create a community so they can find other Daemonical players with whom to enjoy this multiplayer game. Here, the developers can listen intently to player feedback, get new ideas for future items and game mechanics, and play a few rounds of the survive-the-night horror game with some of the players. It’s hard to find that kind of passion and dedication in games.
Daemonical encourages players to communicate because that helps them survive. Without guidance from its teammates, your character could be alone in the dark while being stalked. Establishing that is an experience of its own. When another match starts up, the person you just talked to may be the demon that’ll tear you apart once night falls; that’s just how the game works.
Those who don’t feel like joining the Discord server can always participate in the game chat before and during the match with the people in your game. Daemonical sports a mechanic rarely used in other games: the proximity game chat audio, in which you can hear the survivors around you, and they can hear you. Daemonical uses this mechanic flawlessly to add to the experience and atmosphere of the game. As the match starts, and daylight is still on your side, you can choose to get acquainted with the others on the island, or you can maintain your anonymity, staying on your own and seeing where the night takes you.
After a warm and personal introduction from one of the developers, who was intrigued by my review on Discord, I hopped onto the game to take a gander. To start, the interface and atmosphere of the game just throws you in there, lacking any context or explanation as to what’s going on. Upon opening the game, I was greeted with a news section, a spooky forest background and the option to invite some friends and search for a lobby as a human or a monster.
While the game interface made me a bit suspicious about the quality of Daemonical, getting into my first few matches completely changed my point of view. In some games I felt under pressure, in others I felt scared, and in some, I giggled. The various interactions I had with the other players using the in-game voice chat put a smile on my face. After the demon violently grabbed me, which made my heart jump out of my chest, he started asking about my day as he stared at me. Once I explained to him that it was my first time playing, he let me run free. In the next game, the killer was less merciful when nightfall came. While hiding in a wooden cabin, I heard gunshots in the distance, and then one of the survivors screamed “Headshot!” After stepping outside and seeing my fellow survivor dead on the ground, I realized his efforts to escape the demon had been in vain. Although I never got to finish the ritual or stay alive to witness it, I had fun the whole way through. I only wish one of my Steam friends had Daemonical as well so I can feel right at home there, like I do in Dead by Daylight.
Daemonical is an early access title. But there isn’t much to truly complain about because the game is still in its early stages. There are kinks that need to be worked out. It’s like taking a peek at a batch of brownies that still needs time to bake. This game receives constant updates and development, so no issue will be permanent. I feel the game will get better as time goes on.
Daemonical deserves more attention than what it has now; its small community could always use more people eager to fill the lobbies and experience what both the game and the players have to offer. Daemonical is a worthy offering that makes you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Kimari Rennis is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.